As we’ve already touched upon, it can be hard to be around certain family members. That’s because of the dynamics that exist between blood relatives and the expectations we have regarding them. Even though people may be related to you, it’s okay to set limitations with them. This is necessary for your own self-preservation. Even those folks you only see on special occasions can be harmful to your emotional health. Here are some tips for dealing with family at holidays and family functions.
Make a Plan
Knowing you only see these difficult people at certain times of the year allows you to prepare ahead of time for those circumstances. Make a plan for the ways in which you want to approach the situation. Perhaps you can arrange not to sit next to the aunt at Christmas dinner who always asks you when you’re going to get married. It’s also possible you could formulate a concise response to let her know you’re not interested in discussing the matter with her. Decide in advance how you’ll deal with that troublesome relative so that you can put your boundary in place more easily.
Take a Breath
Chances are, you won’t be able to avoid a problematic family member completely during family gatherings. When you do need to engage with them, try to remember to take some time before your interactions to breathe and think about how you wish to proceed. Take a deep breath and count to ten. You can use that brief moment to calm yourself and think about the best response for dealing with the issue sensitively or calmly. This small step can diffuse tense situations.
Have Realistic Expectations
You probably know what to expect from difficult relatives going into any family get-together. After all, that’s why you’ve formulated a plan for dealing with them. That doesn’t mean you can’t hope they will do better this time around. However, chances are good that they won’t. Try to keep your expectations realistic and just know that they are likely to exhibit the same behavior they always do. This way, you won’t be likely to take their bait or be bullied into conflict.
Hopefully, these tips will help you get through the next family gathering without losing your cool. Having a plan can make dealing with even the most annoying relative much easier.